© 2004 Elsevier

The figure shows regions activated during physically induced pain (left), hypnotically induced pain (middle), and imagined pain (right). In contrast to physically and hypnotically induced pain, the imagined condition provided minimal activation in the anterior cingulated cortex, insula, and secondary somatosensory cortex. Activation in primary somatosensory cortex was observed only during hypnotically induced pain. (From S.W.G. Derbyshire et al., Neuroimage, 23:392–401, 2004.)

Under the suggestive power of hypnosis, subjects can be convinced that they're feeling pain when no stimulus is given. Other subjects can be taught to control the amount of pain they feel, as with a dial. Appearing to work well in as many as 15% of people tested, hypnosis can tap into the brain's ability to produce and modulate pain as well as the maddening subjectivity of the experience. Using sophisticated brain imaging techniques in concert with the power of...

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